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HVAC testing at UM

Work is part of a layered approach to minimize COVID risk

November 15, 2021 — 

The University of Manitoba has engaged environmental testing consultants Pinchin Ltd to validate the performance of the heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems that serve its facilities. These systems are designed to meet or exceed applicable ASHRAE standards for indoor air quality.

ASHRAE standards and guidelines are uniform methods of testing for rating purposes, recommended practices in designing and installing equipment, and information that guides the industry. The standards are endorsed by the Government of Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada to help mitigate COVID transmission.

Pinchin performed visual inspections of the HVAC building systems in conjunction with Physical Plant, and eleven buildings were selected from Fort Garry and Bannatyne campuses for testing of ventilation flowrates, outside air percentages, maximum occupancy and weekly usage. Tests lasted for 24 hours in each building and occurred through the September-October period. Test results were within typical and acceptable ranges, indicating good air quality for the duration of the testing period.

Another round of tests will take place in January 2022 when the campus returns to full occupancy. They will comprise 24-hour stationary tests, as well as spot-tests at various locations.

Other improved ventilation measures across UM campuses:

  • Increasing air exchanges by extending fan run-times. COVID-19 safety recommendations include this practice within building spaces to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Increasing outdoor air intake and adding air purifiers. Local air purification systems are considered in areas without sufficient ventilation systems. For the few buildings identified as unsuitable for use by more than 2 or 3 persons at a time, faculty are notified.
  • Checking filters. To ensure ventilation system filtration is working optimally within system designs.
  • Preventative maintenance. All campus ventilation systems receive regular preventative maintenance service routines.

Optimizing air quality and ventilation are one aspect of a layered approach to minimize COVID risk, alongside other important safety measures such as:

  • Staying home when you are sick
  • Proper mask use
  • Maintaining 2m physical distance
  • Vaccination requirement
  • Ongoing cleaning and sanitization
  • Good hand hygiene


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